This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Syringa Vulgaris. Common Lilac.
Cor. 4-fida. Capsula bilocularis.
SYRINGA vulgaris foliis ovato-cordatis integris. Linn. Syst. Veget. ed. 14. Murr. p. 57. Ait. Hort. Kew. V. 1. p. 15.
SYRINGA caerulea, Bauh. Pin. 398.
LILAC sive Syringa caerulea. The blew Pipe tree. Park. Parad. p. 407.
Few shrubs are better known in this country than the Lilac few more universally cultivated; there is scarcely a cottage it does not enliven, or a shrubbery it does not beautify.
It has long had a place in our gardens; both Gerard and Parkinson describe two sorts, the blue and the white; to these another sort is added by more modern writers, superior in beauty to the original, as producing larger bunches of flowers, of a brighter hue, having more of the purple tint and hence called by some the purple Lilac, Miller considers the three as different species.
The flowers of the Lilac possess a considerable degree of fragrance, but not of the most agreeable kind; our readers perhaps, will not be displeased to hear the opinion of old Gerard on this point, delivered in his own words: - "They have a pleasant sweete smell, but in my judgement they are too sweete, troubling and molesting the head in very strange manner: I once gathered the flowers, and laid them in my chamber window, which smelled more strongly after they had lien together a few howers, with such a ponticke and unacquainted savor, that they awaked me from sleepe, so that I could not take any rest until I had cast them out of my chamber."
Though a native of Persia, it bears our severest winters without injury, has a pleasing appearance when in bud, flowers in May, and is readily propagated by suckers; but finer plants, in the opinion of Miller, are raised from seeds.
It will grow in almost any soil or situation, even in London, but, to flower well, it must have a pure air.
 The name, indeed, of one of our colours is taken from its blossoms.
This Quotation from Gerard referring to its Smell belongs to the Philadelphus coronarius or Mock-orange which both by him and Parkinson is called Syringa, & which led to the Mistake.